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Be Kind
by Dr. Johnny O. Trail, LMFT
The light just turned green, and cars slowly moved through the intersection. I was turning left but could not help noticing the woman in the SUV next to me in the adjacent lane. She had put her left hand out the window and was making an obscene gesture to the person in the car behind them. As if that was not enough lewdness for the moment, she stuck her head out the window and shouted several profanities to the same car. I was unable to determine what the other driver had done to incite the anger of the woman driving the SUV, but one does not have to respond to any situation in this manner.

As I watched this shameful spectacle unfold, I just shook my head in bewilderment and considered the decline that seems to be impacting our society. Everyone has made a mistake while driving, so why be impolite about it when someone else does? It seems that being rude and vulgar are the socially acceptable behaviors of our age.

Furthermore, it does not have to be a driving situation. In virtually every setting that one encounters it is possible to find someone who acts in a revolting and uncouth manner. It is almost like some are looking for an opportunity to unleash their anger upon an unsuspecting victim. This is true in private and professional settings.

Christians are expected to show kindness to one another and to those outside of the body of Christ. If we are producing the fruits of the Spirit, then we should demonstrate this quality to all who cross our paths. Galatians 5:22-23 says, “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law.” If we treat people in an unkind manner, how are we ever going to convert them to Jesus? Converting someone we have treated poorly might prove difficult if not impossible.

Kindness and respect need to be demonstrated to people even when they mistreat Christians. Matthew 7:12 says, “Therefore, whatever you want men to do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets.” Most reasonable people want to be treated with dignity and respect even on their worst day. Moreover, they might need this consideration on their worst day. Why compound someone’s distress by acting in an ill-mannered way at their distress?

Kindness in tense situations can turn the mood of individuals who might otherwise become belligerent. It tends to disarm people when you stive to be polite in the face of their hostility. Proverbs 15:1 says, “A soft answer turns away wrath, But a harsh word stirs up anger.” Being polite and kind in strained situations tends to calm the mood and attitudes of all involved.

We must strive to use our tongues and communication in a wholesome manner—even when it is difficult to be nice. Proverbs 15:4 says, “A wholesome tongue is a tree of life, But perverseness in it breaks the spirit.” It is common in our age to hear people unleash a diatribe of profanities to any person who wrongs them. Most of the time this only serves to escalate the situation. This should never be the reaction of one who is a Christian.

If any person every had the right to exact justice for mistreatment, it was Jesus Christ. However, His life was not expended for exacting revenge upon those who mistreated Him during His earthly ministry. His life was spent to redeem even those who reviled and murdered Him.

His love was that deep and powerful. 1 Peter 2:21-23 says, “For to this you were called, because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that you should follow His steps: ‘Who committed no sin, nor was deceit found in His mouth,’ who, when He was reviled, did not revile in return; when He suffered, He did not threaten, but committed Himself to Him who judges righteously.”

Kindness can also be expressed by our actions. Did you know that kindness is one exemplar of Christian love? 1 Corinthians 13:4-5 says, “Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil.” To behave rudely, contradicts the divine imperative of what love should represent among Christians.

We are expected to “do good” unto all men, but especially unto those who are children of God. Galatians 6:10 says, “Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all, especially to those who are of the household of faith.” This means we must express kindness to those who are not Christians and so much more towards those who are within the church.

It stands to reason that we must be able to get along with other Christians since these are the ones that we will be spending eternity with. To honor the principle of love, we must act in a kind fashion with our brethren in words and in action. Hopefully, our behaviors are excellent around those that we are supposed to spend an eternity with someday. If we cannot get along on this planet with Christians and be kind to our fellow man, why should we expect to spend infinitude with the Prince of Peace?